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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 2, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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pay someone with an email. and bank seamlessly with our award-winning mobile app. take a step forward... and chase what matters. on our broadcast tonight, what happened? a big name in the world of sports takes his own life, raising new questions tonight about life after the game. hazing tragedy. criminal charges against 13 people in the beating death of a young man, a drum major at the college of his dreams. out of the race. newt gingrich no longer a presidential candidate, but he could still cause trouble for his old rival? >> and elizabeth edwards, the emotional testimony from a woman who knew her well that caused her daughter to leave the courtroom today. "nightly news" begins now. good evening. he was a big name in the world of sports. junior seau was one of the best
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known players in the nfl in his two decades in the game. he was a top flight linebacker, a 12-time pro bowler with devoted fans in miami, new england, and san diego. today, he was found dead, an apparent suicide with a gun shot wound to the chest. he was just 43, and by some accounts, was a troubled man after leaving the game, and while there's a lot we don't know yet, his name joins a growing sad list of players who have found their post game years filled with too much pain to go on. we begin tonight with nbc's gabe gutierrez in los angeles. >> i'm shocked. >> junior seau's mom said she learned of her son's death while she was at church. >> i prayed to god, please, take me. take me. leave my child, but it was too late. >> he was a legend in san diego, a star linebacker know for his
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hard hits, but this morning, news of his death hit especially hard. hundreds quickly gathered outside his home to pay their respects. police say seau's girlfriend found his body with a gunshot wound to the chest. >> this case at this point is being investigated as a suicide. >> he played college ball at the university of southern california. the san diego chargers drafted him in 1990. his career included 12 consecutive pro bowl selections. his last season was 2009. >> it's very shocking and makes you take a big step and look at your life and everything in perspective. >> but life after football wasn't easy. in october 2010, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. hours after the release, he drove his suv off a cliff. seau said he wasn't trying to kill himself. he had just fallen asleep at the wheel. he's the second nfl player to
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commit suicide in the past few weeks. ray easterly shot himself. he sued the league over the league's handling of concussion related issues. >> there have been a number of well publicized cases of retired athletes who committed suicide. and there is some concern over whether those issues may be related to changed that's occur in the brain. >> police aren't saying what may have driven him to kill himself. he didn't leave a suicide note. >> i don't know what i'm going to do. >> no easy answers for her family or his fans. junior seau was 43. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, los angeles. now to florida and a sad case that shed light on hazing. among some members of elite school marching bands. 13 people were charged today in the death of a florida a&m drum major, but none are charged with murder, and that has people asking why. our report from nbc's kerry sanders.
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>> the famed florida a&m marching band has been temporarily silenced since robert champion's beating death five months ago. now 13 people on his fam u band bus are accused of pummeling him to death. 11 of them are charged with third degree felony charges in what the prosecutor called a case of homicide by hazing. >> i have come to believe that hazing is a term for bullying. bullying with a tradition that we cannot bear in america. >> the 26-year-old's parents said they were hoping for a harsher indictment, murder or at minimum, manslaughter. >> there certainly needs to be something more harsh, something to let people know, to send a message that we won't tolerate it anymore. >> why no charge of murder? legal experts say prosecutors would need to know who threw the fatal blow, but the medical examiner said it was not one but rather many punches that led to his death.
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>> robert champion died as a result of hemorrhagic shock due to soft tissue hemorrhage incurred by blunt force trauma. >> if convicted, those charged in his case could face up to six years in prison. florida has rarely used its seven-year-old hazing resulting in death statute. current and former fam u members say this tragedy has exposed an ugly secret, a culture of hazing in the university's marching band that until now has been quietly accepted as tradition. last week, two music professors at fam u resigned amid reports they were present during hazing incidents involving other band pledges. their lawyers say they deny any involvement in hazing activities, and the month after champion's death, three other fam u students were charged with beating a freshman band member, breaking her leg. following today's charges, fam u's vice president for league
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affairs issued a statement that reads in part, the university will move with all deliberate speed to initiate proceedings against those involved. brian. >> kerry sanders, thanks. in presidential politics this evening, it's safe to say he changed the race while he was in the race, but today, that came to an end for newt gingrich, the former house speaker finally suspended his bid for the gop nomination today after leaving behind memorable moments in the campaign that seemed for a while there like it was not going to end. our report tonight from nbc's peter alexander. >> today, i'm suspending the campaign. >> newt gingrich's campaign was improbable, unpredictable, and always optimistic. >> we're going to contest every place and we're going to win and we will be in tampa as the nominee in august. >> that's a promise the former house speaker won't be able to keep. >> i'm asked sometimes, is mitt romney conservative enough? and my answer is simple,
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compared to barack obama? >> from the start, critics questioned the seriousness of gingrich's bid for presidency. less than a month into the race, his decision to take his wife on a mediterranean cruise led to the exodus of much of his staff, but gingrich fought back. >> can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney. >> with a series of memorable debate performances that were as effective as they were fiery, often directed at the national news media. >> i'm appalled you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that. >> gingrich, who tried to cast himself as the true republican conservative, blamed his losses on what he derided as the romney machine. >> newt gingrich, too much baggage. >> still, the party's faithful wasn't always impressed. >> you're an embarrassment to our party. >> i'm sorry you feel that way. >> and his campaign of big ideas -- >> by the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent
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base on the moon, and it will be american. >> -- became late night fodder. >> the moon is our future and it has everything we need. >> but gingrich's sharpest attacks on romney could have lingering effects. the obama campaign already rolling out a collection of its favorites. >> are you calling mitt romney a liar? >> yes. >> and tomorrow, the pro romney super pac that helped overwhelm gingrich with negative ads in the campaign will release its first commercial of the general election season, brian, restore our future is spending more than $4 million, this time with a positive ad aimed at improving romney's image. >> peter alexander in our d.c. newsroom tonight, peter, thanks. president obama is back home tonight but just hours after air force one took off from afghanistan to make the long return flight home to washington, the taliban claimed credit for an overnight suicide attack in kabul that killed seven people. this week, of course, and the
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president's visit marking the one year anniversary of the death of osama bin laden. tonight on nbc we'll broadcast our exclusive hour long special edition of "rock center" "inside the situation room." it's a deconstruction of the bin laden mission. it includes our interview a year later with all those we saw in the photo taken in the white house situation room and frozen in time from that night. it also includes rarely seen white house video showing what it was like in the west wing after the president and his team learned that the mission had succeeded and bin laden was dead halfway around the world, and calls were going out to former presidents and leaders around the world. we asked the president and secretary of state clinton among others about how important it was to keep the mission a secret until the very end. >> did you seek anyone's counsel? >> i didn't. and the reason was because this had to be such a close hold
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operation. there were only a handful of staff in the white house who knew about this. the majority of my senior staff didn't know about it. my secretary didn't know about it, my personal aide didn't know about it. >> the first lady? >> first lady didn't know about it. >> your husband didn't know? >> no. no. >> mrs. obama didn't know. these are big-time washington diplomatic security secrets. >> yes, this was such an important secret to keep, no one in the state department knew. the same, i think, except for those with need to know in the pentagon or the cia and certainly the white house. so i just felt a personal responsibility to keep it close, but that meant that i was basically having to consult with myself, to be honest. >> and keeping that secret also
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meant sticking to the official white house schedule, which for the president, meant a trip to survey the tornado damage in tuscaloosa and having to keep up appearances by attending the white house correspondents dinner. our broadcast marks the first time cameras have ever been allowed inside the white house situation room. you can see it tonight on "rock center" 9:00 eastern, 8:00 central time. the latest now on a story that put a big strain on the relationship between this country and china. tonight the blind activist who made a daring escape from house arrest and took refuge after the u.s. embassy has now left the embassy and his departure is raising a lot of questions. ian williams has the latest. >> in a beijing hospital for treatment and a family reunion after a deal between the u.s. and china, that now appears to be unraveling. chen chaungcheng was brought to the hospital personally by u.s. officials said he left the
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u.s. embassy voluntarily after six days preferring to stay in china after assurances from the chinese authorities about his safety. >> from day one, his express desire was to remain in china. he sought to be reunited with his family. he was looking for a better life. >> they said he never once asked for asylum. once he knew u.s. officials said chinese authorities assured shen he wouldn't be mistreated and that his allegations of abuse would be investigated and he would get a new home and a university job. but hours later, with u.s. officials gone, chen apparently had a dramatic change of heart. in an emotional telephone interview with nbc news, he said he had only left the embassy because of threats to his family. i demand the u.s. government take concrete action to guarantee my safety and human rights and not consider other interests, he said. i want to leave china, any country is fine. hillary clinton in china today
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said earlier the deal reflected chen's choices and the american values. she had hoped to prevent the issue from overshadowing high level talks thursday. as nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell explains. >> all this has been a diplomatic nightmare for hillary clinton who went to beijing to press china on iran, syria, and north korea but now faces a chinese government angry about what they call u.s. interference on a domestic issue and the administration under pressure to hold china accountable for human rights, are now almost responsible for insuring his safety. >> u.s. officials promised to closely monitor his treatment, for years if necessarily. u.s. diplomats returned to see chen in hospital this morning, but he's no longer under diplomatic protection. china is angry and embarrassed, even demanding an apology, and for chen, leaving the country may no longer be an option. brian. >> ian williams in beijing tonight, thanks. up next as we continue along
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the way, the private grief and rage of elizabeth edwards. it became very public today in dramatic court testimony. and later, the list of america's worst airports is out. three of the top five are all in one place. you may be able to guess where.
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emotions were running high at the criminal trial of john edwards today. as a friend of john edwards' late wife elizabeth testified about the anguish she suffered following her husband's affair. our report tonight from nbc's lisa myers. >> again today, kate edwards was at her father's side as they arrived for court. she's been her dad's most stalwart supporter, always seated behind him in the court room. today for the first time, the emotional stress of this very personal family drama burst into public view. as christina reynolds, a former
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campaign staffer and close friend of elizabeth edwards began to testify about knowledge about her husband's affair, john edwards turned to his daughter. i don't know what's coming. do you want to leave? edwards was heard asking kate. kate broke down in tears and hurried out of the courtroom. as her father called her name. >> it was very emotional, very touching, very real, very human when kate edwards left the courtroom crying. >> christina reynolds testified in the summer of 2007, elizabeth told me mr. edwards had an affair and she believed it might still be going on. she also accounted a dramatic confrontation between the edwards neararoly airport hangar a day after the national enquirer's first story about his affair. mrs. edwards was very upset and she was fairly vocal. she stormed off and collapsed into a ball on the ground. she testified that a few minutes
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later, elizabeth confronted her husband again, yelling to him, you don't see me anymore, and angrily tearing off her blouse and bra. >> there's no question that the jury has to be moved hearing about the pain to elizabeth edwards caused by her husband, john edwards. >> kate edwards returned to the courtroom only a few minutes later and shed a few more tears when the witness, under questioning by the defense, testified that she saw john edwards attending to elizabeth in the final moments before she died. lisa myers, nbc news, greensboro, north carolina. when we come back, the first pictures have emerged of a big city disaster on the water.
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newly released video tonight showing the moment of impact when a barge smashed right over a disabled sight seeing duck boat in the delaware river in philadelphia back in july of 2010. two people died in the accident.
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the video was released on the eve of the trial in a wrongful death suit brought by the families of the deceased, both young tourists from hungary. the tug boat pilot guiding the barge was sentenced to a year in prison last november. >> earl rose has died. his role in history was as the local medical examiner in dallas the day of the jfk assassination. he insisted it was his duty to perform an autopsy before the president's body was flown back to washington. he tried to block the door when the secret service entered. he lost that argument, though, when the first lady wanted to take her husband's body back home. dr. rose worried for years that vital evidence may have been lost right then. days later, he performed the autopsy on lee harvey oswald. dr. earl rose was 85 years old. flying into or out of new york is not for the faint of heart, and the folks at travel and leisure magazine say it's in fact officially awful. they're out with their list of best and worst airports in the country and the not proud title of the worst airport goes to new
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york laguardia. they got this right, it's crowded and dated. the architecture ranges from dilapidated hangars to terrible terminals. after lax and filly, jfk and new york, all three of new york's airports on the top five worst. good news, in minneapolis, st. paul, you have the nicest airport in the country. >> the critics were howling at blackberry today when they came out with their latest effort, the blackberry ten, with a touch screen and no keyboard. the problem is this, the keyboard is the reason why millions of users cling to their blackberries when they know the iphone has cooler features and no keyboard. one ad exec today called it the most bone headed marketing decision of the year. one columnist said a blackberry without a keyboard is like a toyota prius with terrible gas mileage. luckily the boss at blackberry said they would always offer
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devices with keyboards. when we come back, helping a young man reach his dream even if it's not the way anybody imagined it would be.
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we want to leave you tonight
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with a story about a dream come true, even though it doesn't happen the way you might expect. nbc's kate snow reports on a young man who realized his life's ambition today with one major alteration. thanks to his own courage and resilience in the face of extreme adversity. >> eric legrand always dreamed of one day making the nfl, just not quite like this. >> may not be the circumstances i want, but you know, i'm there. >> today, the tampa bay buccaneers signed the 22-year-old defensive tackle, though he can't walk. he's paralyzed from the neck down. it's a symbolic signing, but legrand will wear the bucs jersey. >> i'm definitely planning to get down there and meet the team and talk to them and share my story and how i live my life on a daily basis. >> they don't come better than him. >> bucs coach greg schiano called it a small jestture to recognize his character, spirit, and perseverance. schiano was his coach at rutgers university when legrand made the life changing tackle in the fall
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of 2010 which sent him off the field in a stretcher. >> they're walking my legs since i can't move them myself. >> after five months of cutting edge therapy, he does have some sensation. >> so that's the big improvement. >> just last week, the christopher reeve foundation posted this video of him sitting up on his own. last fall, he was back out on the field with his rutgers teammates, calling games in the booth. >> you're going to see a bunch of pressure coming from the defensive line tonight. >> today, he said he hopes to be an nfl broadcaster by next fall and said his supporters give him strength. >> i have to prove to all these people and show them if you believe in yourself, believe in the man above, anything is possible. that's what i do every single day of my life. >> strangers call him an inspiration. >> i love being positive. i don't like having a negative attitude. i don't like being down. i smile every time. that's just the way i am. i feel a lot better when i'm smiling. >> tonight, he has good reason to. kate snow, nbc news, new york. >> that's our broadcast on a wednesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back
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here tomorrow evening, and we'll look for you later tonight for our special edition of "rock center." good night. good evening and thanks for joining us. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. better than before. that's how oakland police department is characterizing yesterd yesterday's massive may day protests. despite 5,000 defensemmonstrato across the city they say violence and vandalism was much less and they're crediting planning and new high tech tools. nbc bay area's jodi hernandez is live at the police department with an update for us. >>di?

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